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Got carbon dioxide? Make fuel

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By Roger Snodgrass

A scientist from Los Alamos National Laboratory is at a conference in Florida today, pitching the idea of making gasoline from air and water.Jeffrey Martin, a nuclear engineer who has most recently been a senior advisor in the laboratory director’s office, is attending the Alternative Energy NOW conference in Lake Buena Vista with a plan for producing a synthetic gasoline that can power planes and cars out of plain air.In a telephone interview Tuesday, Martin said the idea grew out of a military request for ideas on how to field a fuel-making system in the backcountry of Afghanistan, where the defense department was paying $1,000 a gallon for gas.He didn’t immediately solve the problem but in the process, Martin said, he came up with the idea of a much more efficient and affordable form of liquid fuel.It is called “Green Freedom,” and the basic idea is to extract carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and combine it with hydrogen split from water to make a hydrocarbon fuel.“The trick and the challenge for ‘Green Freedom’ was that you had to process a huge amount of air,” said Martin.Carbon dioxide makes up 370 parts per million in the air, a significant amount as a greenhouse gas, but not very dense as an industrial resource. The researchers solved the problem by proposing to use the cooling towers from power plants, which pro


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